Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Live and Let Dye

I finally saved up enough to set up my dye "studio" and I'm loving it. I've been sampling Greener Shades dyes and keeping copious notes as I try different ways to prep, heat and add acid to the fiber. My love of lists and spreadsheets is definitely coming in to play here. I have a special dyeing notebook for each batch and then I'm keeping fiber samples from each one in a photo album. I figure if I am going to ever be able to sell repeatable colorways, I need to know what I am doing. I keep telling myself it's a business decision and not my nerdiness shining through.

This is my third batch of dyed fiber, when I mixed three colors in the pot to see what would happen. I love how it turned out. I've now dyed samples of all the basic colors except black for reference purposes. There is a rainbow in my studio! (Click any photos to see them larger)

I also rearranged my kitchen to move some of my fiber blending supplies into my work area. I had a small bookcase doing nothing but collecting clutter in my bedroom, so I moved it and filled the shelves with blending fibers. I always do my carding on my kitchen table, and now everything will be close by. I can also keep my scale there, since I use it for both carding and dyeing. All of my dyeing is done right next to my kitchen sink so there is no risk of spillage. Fortunately, I have the type of faucet that pulls out into a sprayer and it reaches the dye pot. I couldn't have planned it better.

Now my combs are clamped to one chair, I have the carder and scale on the table, mixing fiber on the shelves, dye supplies in the bin, and more mixing fiber in the white box. Since this was taken, I bought a box picker for opening up locks of fiber. I used it to pick some of the red dyed fleece and it's a huge time saver. Wool locks, still in tight formation, are almost impossible to run through the drum carder. The picker loosens everything up and helps the bits of hay and debris fall out before they get mixed in to my batts. I got a great deal on a used one and it's the perfect size for my work area. I like that I can latch the cover so my cat can't get into trouble. The inside of it is full of spiky heavy nails. Honestly, most spinning equipment is bloodthirsty! My combs are a serious harzard and I have a bandaid on my finger after carding part of my knuckle last night on the drum carder.

I think this will all pay off eventually. I just sent out several more batt orders and I have an ever growing list of reserve orders for the Sarah and Jareth batts. I also carded some "Hoggle" batts, mostly out of alpaca, and I love them so much. I hope others will like them too.

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